BENGALURU: Research on tobacco control across six states in the country —Karnataka, Assam, Gujarat, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir— has found that cigarette smoking prevalence is highest in Karnataka, at 63.68%. The report also stated that ground-level implementation of tobacco control is lacking in these states, and needs to be improved.
The study done by AF Development Care (AFDC), a research agency working in Asia on health, gender and labour issues, carried out study to evaluate the status of implementation of tobacco control measures covered under WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) rules in India (2004-2020). The study found that people in urban areas are more likely to consume cigarettes than those residing in rural areas. As per the study, around 58% of urban respondents smoke cigarettes, whereas only 43% do so among rural respondents.
Cigarette smoking prevalence above 18 years of age was the highest in Karnataka, with 63.68%, followed by Odisha with 62.5%, 48.37% in Assam, and 45.95% in Jammu & Kashmir. The lowest was in Gujarat, with 33.18%. Smoking of beedi among tobacco users was also highest in Karnataka, at 36.32%. While in the case of smokeless tobacco (SLT), gutkha was the highest in Gujarat at 69.16%, and lowest in Uttar Pradesh at 24.25%. Prevalence is high in states like Odisha and Jammu & Kashmir, with more than 40%.
Sachi Satapathy, principal investigator and director, AFDC, pointed out that the study was conducted between January and April 2021, and the report was published in October. “The survey on six states was decided based on the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) increase in tobacco consumption. An analysis on ‘understanding on indoor smoking policy’ found that a majority of participants from Karnataka (53.64%) believe that smoking is allowed in some indoor areas, which definitely shows that the government needs to strengthen its tobacco policy,” said Satapathy.
What is surprising is that WHO-FCTC came into force on February 27, 2005. In 2018, WHO adopted global norms to accelerate tobacco control, in implementation of WHO-FCTC. It’s been three years now, but there is the absence of any report on progress towards the goal, the report stated.
The study will be submitted to chief ministers of the particular states to improve implementation. “The study found that ground-level regulatory implementation is lacking. A minor can access tobacco products in any shop nearby. There is erratic implementation of indoor tobacco use policy in India. Many people reported that they don’t even know such a policy exists. The Centre can come up with a new regulation and compliance mechanism, like banning smoking in more public places to reduce people’s exposure to tobacco products,” he said.